It has become a yearly tradition for the German manufacturer ADAM AUDIO to launch a brand new product for the Musikmesse trade show in Frankfurt (Germany). Trade shows are meant for that, aren’t they? This year was no exception for the trendy loudspeaker manufacturer. The proof is the new active studio monitor speaker A8X that complements the already comprehensive AX range.
A Brief Reminder
If case you don’t know (or you haven’t read our previous ADAM S3X-H Review), ADAM AUDIO has earned itself a solid reputation in the professional loudspeaker market over the years, thanks to its active studio monitors with ribbon tweeters. This technology — developed and patented by the German manufacturer under the name ART (Active Ribbon Technology) — allowed for the development of several speaker ranges, including the famous “S Series” that became very successful very quickly.
In 2006, the manufacturer introduced a new series that included two compact and affordable active monitor speakers: the A5 and A7. Conceived for very diverse situations, from studio and home studio mixing to small multimedia applications, these speakers have been praised by sound engineers, musicians and producers all over the world. Actually, as soon as they hit the stores, both compact monitor speakers received excellent comments from the specialized press and almost every professional. It was due to the fact that this new product range created a new market segment that combined professional manufacturing and performance with compact dimensions and a very attractive price.
Last year, ADAM AUDIO presented an evolution of its ART technology — the X-ART technology, which still includes folded ribbons as high-frequency transducers. This tweeter development brings new improvements in terms of frequency response and output level. Just like the SX series, the tweeters included in the X series provide a frequency response up to 50 kHz (@ -3 dB) and a level increase of 4 dB compared with the old ART technology tweeters.
Considering the frequency range of the human ear, you’ll probably think this extended frequency response is only a marketing gimmick to sell more based on a technical feat. However, in practice it provides the speaker with a much more linear phase response over the audible frequency range, since it offsets phase errors to the limits of the loudspeaker’s frequency response…
Obviously, ADAM AUDIO upgraded this year its famous A5 and A7 models to the X series, which resulted in the A5X and A7X models. Both models are in the exact same market segment as their predecessors in terms of dimensions and price. However, in order to cover an even wider application range, ADAM AUDIO decided to offer two new loudspeaker models called A3X and A8X. While the A3X is an entry-level model, the goal of the A8X is to open the midfield monitor speaker market to the AX series.
And it’s good so because I have a weakness for high-end products, as you may have already noticed…
Out of the Box
It will take you no time to understand the position of the A8X in the AX range considering its “impressive” dimensions: 15.5″ x 10″ x 12.5″ (H x W x D)! The overall design — which recalls the previous A series — and the black/gray finish is similar for the whole AX series and it gives the speakers a modern and rugged look. On the front side, the upper corners are slanted in order to minimize reflections on the cabinet.
The A8X weights 28.7 lb.(!), including the X-ART ribbon tweeter and a 8.5″ mid-woofer mounted in a newly developed cabinet that features two bass reflex ports to enhance the lows… While the A8X tweeter is the same transducer as in the top SX series, the woofer is slightly different. Unlike the HexaCone material used for the SX series, the AX woofers are made out of a carbon/Rohacell (structural foam)/glass fiber combination. But don’t worry about the response quality of the woofer! On the front side, right between the two bass reflex ports, you’ll find a control panel with an on/off switch and a main volume control ranging from -∞ to +14 dB. Like the older A5 and A7, the front side of the cabinet is still sleek and simple.
When it comes to amplification, the A8X benefits from the same improvements as all other X models: The X-ART tweeter is driven by its own class AB amp that delivers 50 watts RMS. The very low distortion of the power amp, as well as its extended frequency response up to 300 kHz, ought to optimize the precision and performance of the tweeter. The woofer is driven by a 150-watt PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) amp. The crossover frequency is set at 2.5 kHz. The frequency response of the monitor ranges from 38 Hz to 50 kHz (at +/-3 dB) and it produces up to 112 dB SPL (120 dB peak). It can be very loud!
The rear side of the speaker hosts the connections and other settings. On the upper left corner you have balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs to connect a +4 dBu source signal (a mixer, a summing amp, a monitoring controller, etc.) or a -10 dBV signal source (CD player, etc.). Well done!
Like all ADAM monitors, the A8X also provides several valuable settings. First of all, you have trim pots that control a pair of shelving filters to adjust the frequency bands above 5 kHz and under 300 Hz (+/-6 dB). A third control adjusts the gain of the tweeter (+/-4 dB) to balance the high-frequency range against the overall volume of the speaker. Last but not least, on the rear panel is also the power outlet with a 110/230V switch.
Now let’s plug the speaker in!…
Upgrading the already very successful A series was no easy task for the German manufacturer. But once again, we have to acknowledge that ADAM AUDIO successfully took up the challenge with this A8X monitor — the flagship of the new AX series.
It’s true that the development of the new X-ART tweeter was the starting point of this evolution. but the improvements in the overall sound go way beyond the tweeter performance. The precision on the low-frequency range and the stereo imaging are important features that make this new series a success. The A8X is not an update of an existing product, but it features the same assets as its predecessors and siblings, and its performance is comparable to much more expensive mid-field monitors…
Announced at $899, the A8X will seduce the masses effortlessly!!
- Big sounding low frequencies considering the size of the speaker
- Accurate frequency response
- Stereo imaging
- Control panel
- Lack of “bite” in the mid range
To read the full detailed article see: Adam A8X Review